November 2nd at Union Transfer in Philadelphia was a particularly special night. The San Francisco based orchestral indie rock band The Family Crest was concluding their tour while the power pop trio Jukebox the Ghost was kicking off their tour; all during the same evening. From the moment the doors opened until the final chords rang out, the event was an undeniably fun experience for everyone who attended.
It was clear that Philadelphia wanted to show their love for all the bands on the playbill. Before Mike Mains and the Branches took stage as the first opener, the venue was already packed with fans standing elbow to elbow. The Michigan based indie rock group got the audiences’ blood flowing by performing a solid set that gave the fans a reason to dance.
The lull between openers was abruptly shattered when The Family Crest took stage. Their opening song “Beneath the Brine” made the audiences’ jaw drop with the powerful Cello intro. But it was the combination of Liam McCormick’s vocals and the supporting six piece band that kept fans awestruck. The amplified sound of a traditionally acoustic ensemble engulfed the room and gave fans no choice but to continue dancing and singing; encouraged continuously from McCormick and the rest of the band members. The chorus for the song “As We Move Forward” was belted out by the entire audience after a quick coaching session from McCormick prior to the performance.
But it was the small, subtle, and personal moments that accented The Family Crest set. The periodic Instagram photos of the crowd during the show and intimate stories about the bands tour kept fans engaged. But by far the best moment was when the audience sung happy birthday to Owen Sutter (Violinist) for his 30th birthday after it was seemingly unintentionally announced. By the time The Family Crest wrapped up, nobody wanted to see them go. It was hard to consider how Jukebox the Ghost could follow such a dynamic group, but they did it.
As the lights came up and Jukebox the Ghost took the stage, they walked out with their heads held high to a cover of “My Heart Will Go On” echoing through Union Transfer. This hilarious intro set the tone for the remainder of the night. Ben, Tommy, and Jesse made it clear as soon as they got on stage that they were there to have fun.
Their interaction with the crowd during and between songs gave a sense of inclusion to the audience. They were constantly cracking jokes and taking some time to just goof around a bit on stage; this completely relaxed, confident, and somewhat silly behavior made fans feel like they were at neighborhood house party with a group of their closest friends.
At one point during the set Jesse Kristin could be seen playing his drums with a tambourine in one hand which he also chose to use for his cymbal crashes, Ben Thornewill (Pianos /Vocals) had a staring contest with a fan during a piano ballad just for the hell of it, and Tommy Siegel (Vocals / Guitar) adamantly refused to play the “Seinfeld” theme song just because he happened to be holding a bass. But even though the members of Jukebox the Ghost didn’t take themselves too seriously, they are still a very talented group of individuals.
With Jukebox the Ghost’s newest self-titled album being released only two weeks prior (October 21st), there was understandably a large portion of the set reserved for their new content. But they also managed to branch out and perform songs off all three of their previous albums. Songs like “Lighting Myself on Fire”, “Half Crazy”, and “Somebody” all made their way into the set and excited both the longtime fans and new fans hearing these songs for the first time.
Some unexpected covers also got slipped into the night that made the audience explode with excitement. Ben Thornewill joked about forming a Queen cover band earlier in the show, but after they played their rendition of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” there is no doubt that they could actually pull it off. Thornewill’s vocals were spot on and the whole performance gave people goosebumbs.
Their closing song ended the night with a bang as they covered “Highway to Hell.” Siegel thrashed on his guitar while Thornewill took a break from sitting behind his piano and ran all around the stage belting out the lyrics.
It was a truly unbelievable experience and one hell of a way to kick off a North American tour. Check out tour dates HERE and grab tickets if Jukebox the Ghost shows up in your town. You won’t regret it.
- Made for Ending
- When the nights get long
- My hearts the same
- Lighting myself on fire
- Long way home
- Hold it in
- Half crazy
- The one
- Good day
- Don’t Stop Me Now
- Great unknown
- Undeniable you
- Show me where it hurts
- Highway to hell